The Gill Rule

The Gill Rule

Bob Gill is an 88 year old graphic designer who’s had the kind of career most of us can only dream about.  In short, you want your work to endure as long as Bob has… and yes, he’s the guy behind the typeface.  Show some respect.

That said, Bob authored a book back in the 80’s that changed my life.  I was called “Forget something or other…“.  I don’t remember.  Sue me.

What I do remember is that the book did two things… it actually showed me HOW he thought about design solutions that he faced and I could follow his execution.  AND, he had a knack for simplifying the design process with a few clever rules, that, for the most part, hold up exceedingly well.



It’s pretty self-explanitory.  If you or your copywriter has written something truly brilliant, don’t let the pictures get in the way of these great and compelling words.

That’s not to say you should dumb anything down.  Just follow that rule.  Make sure whatever imagery you think needs to be there, take second place to the words that are driving the “sale”.

Conversely, if you have an image that blows your audience away, why would you muck it up with a bunch of copy that dilutes what they just saw.  This simple balancing act has provided my work with a whole lot of sanity and smarts when our natural tendency is to vomit on everyone.  Don’t let your client do it.  Don’t you do it.

Here are some great examples of each:



Catalogs & Sell Sheets

Catalogs & Sell Sheets

For good graphic design firms, websites are at the core of everyone’s branding — but not every firm knows how to handle the “old school” marketing work that so many businesses in Southeastern Wisconsin need — namely, catalogs and sell sheets.

Every sales force wants to have a better calling card than just their business card.  Leaving a great sales kit behind (one that doesn’t get tossed into the cylindrical bin) is crucial in turning cold calls into warm leads into active customers.

We know a thing or two about providing the kind of work that not only showcases your brand and your products, but also does so in a way that really “sells”.

Next time you tired materials need an overhaul, look to us at JSH&P to add the spit and polish you’re brand demands.

The 6¢/day Marketing Plan

The 6¢/day Marketing Plan

OK, for any of you familiar with Gary Veynerchuk, the foul-mouthed sommelier (and king of sagely business advice for the connected generation), this statement is a blatant steal of his $1.80/day marketing idea.

It basically goes like this:

Post your own wit and wisdom, pithy comment, probing question or laugh-out-loud retort to 9 top articles under 10 different hashtags every single day. This started as an Instagram strategy that you can view here — and I recommend that you do. WATCH GARY

As a fellow “great” marketer, recognizing and swiping good stuff is crucial to what we do.

So I stole, adapted and credited.

Unless you’re like Gary, and have a camera crew with you all the time, a smartphone attached to your face or have no other workload to accomplish for the day, reading and posting 90 comments a day is a little tough to do. I guarantee you, if you did, you’d begin to get notoriety and a whole bunch of people checking out your profile, BUT, you may lose all of the clients you have because you have no time for them.

That’s why my 6¢ strategy may actually be one you can utilize AND see real results from.

The switch it this, if your wit and wisdom is worth 2¢ (and whose isn’t?), then EVERY DAY, find three articles or posts that are within your LinkedIn feed to add something to their conversation. That’s it. Doesn’t have to be War & Peace. Just play Johnny Appleseed.

Know what?

Often, asking a great question is all that it takes for others to recognize that you “know your stuff”. Don’t go posting self-serving stuff and links back to your own website. The people you are connecting with want advice that helps THEM — not you. Honestly, do this over and over again. It works by building up your brand, while building theirs, too.

Whether you are looking for a job, new business or business connections, this simple and timely strategy is one that you can actually live up to… and reap the kind of rewards that come to those who confidently build a brand of goodwill within their industry.

As Big as Design Gets

As Big as Design Gets

Crazy Horse Memorial

When the Abbey Group of Milwaukee needed creative help, they turned to Creative Director Mike Farley at JSH&P to assist. 

The project is as big as they come… helping generate interest, visitors, donors, and ultimately fundraise for the Crazy Horse Memorial.  The monument, a work in progress by the Ziolkowski Family (Korczak Ziolkowski was one of the original sculptors of Mt. Rushmore), is the world’s largest mountain carving located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is considered The Eighth Wonder of the World in progress — the entirety of Mt. Rushmore fits under of Crazy Horse’s armpit!

“Storytellers” is the branded name for those who contribute to the mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial.  JSH&P helped create the logo design, brochure design and copy editing, as well as full stationery package and fundraising kit, and posters designs — both for resale and as a coloring poster for kids.

Garbage Words

Garbage Words

Most marketing is garbage and you want to make sure your words don’t end up in the trash. If your marketing is full of awesome adjectives (i.e. — best, greatest, advanced, special), know that your audience is not having the same reaction, as when you wrote it.


The ad industry, my industry, has done an exceptional job of making impactful words completely meaningless. If your competition claims the same thing, and they often do, the consumer is left with a big bag of confusion… and the answer to confusion is to toss it out.

Think of it, all of your best stuff, mentally crumpled down into the waste basket.

So how do you capture attention and trust?

TIP 1: Use unique qualifiers and real world examples to help differentiate your brand from the pack. A qualifier like “We’re the no.1 __________” is a whole lot better than the word, “best“. No.1 is provable and leaves little room for doubt.

TIP 2: Choose to be the leader in something… anything, even if you’re a small fry in a big market. If it isn’t sales volume, perhaps it could be customer service or on-time delivery or that you have a process/formula/product that is truly unique in your industry. “We work harder,” is a start… but you can already see the doubt creeping in, so you better back it up with “…and guarantee you’ll agree or your money back.”

TIP 3: Becoming credible in today’s market is paramount, and the best way to gain credibility is familiarity. Your marketing plan and messaging needs to lose more adjectives in favor of finding ways to spend more time with your clientele… like YouTube videos, social site engagement, LI commentary, thought-leadership articles, networking, workshops …and 162 other ideas not mentioned here.

TIP 4: Don’t be afraid to recycle your message. Stop creating new mousetraps, all-the-time. Move your best material into every social silo you can think of. You need prospects to bump into you and spend time with you, so that you can gain their trust to buy from you.

Great stuff, right?


Have you read the Million Dollar Sentence? It will make this article even stickier.

Got JSH&P?

Got JSH&P?


We have a food proof system that helps businesses get on the right path for their marketing — called Powerline.

You’ve heard of elevator pitches and Unique Selling Propositions, but “a Powerline is a USP on steroids.”  Perhaps the best way to explain it, is to document the most famous ad campaign of the last 50 years…

“Got Milk?” is arguably, the world’s most memorable marketing campaign.  Fashioned in 1993 by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Producers, they created a whole new way to think about brand marketing and coined a new term… deprivation marketing.

In essence, what would the world do without your product?

It was a novel concept and one that could have backfired quite easily, but there’s more to milk than meets the eye.*  You see, there’s an interesting process we use, called a Powerline, that helps brands determine who they are, who they target and most importantly, why their prospects should even pay attention.

In the case of milk, a commodity that had been sold for decades on “milk is good for you”, started losing marketshare with the introduction of more beverage choices in the 90’s AND confusion in the market place on whether milk was actually good for you.  An axiom that was, and continues to be under fire.

The Original Milk Powerline:

THAT they should buy more milk for their families,
BECAUSE it builds strong bones for healthier bodies.

But mom was beginning to question this (from lactose intolerance to anti-milk messaging).  So GS&P crafted a very different rationale for California Milk Board consumers…

Here’s the Got Milk? Powerline:

CONVINCE grocery shoppers
THAT they have to put milk in their cart,
BECAUSE without milk, you can’t eat your favorite foods.

Read that again.

It doesn’t say “moms with 2.4 children” or “purchase 6.4 additional quarts of milk”, it just says, someone in the store ready to buy… but might have no interest in putting milk (even a little pint of milk) in their cart or basket.  And why would they?  Because if you put Oreos or Fruit Loops into that same cart, you can ONLY eat them WITH milk.  Milk’s no longer a commodity, but THE brand that makes certain foods taste better!  So much better that you can’t even picture having these foods with ANYTHING else.  Gatorade on your Frosted Flakes?  Orange juice with your Toll House cookies?  No way!  This single sentence helped marketers of milk focus their attention on who they were attracting and why they would comply. 

So what can you do?
Now the trick is to apply this kind of thinking to your own business or brand.  Who do you specifically need to reach out to?  What should they do?  And then, the kicker… why should they believe you?

The CONVINCE line is the hardest to come by.  Frankly, it’s why JSH&P gets hired to take on brands.  We’re pretty good at deciphering a universal truth about the companies we work with and framing a sentence that gives new life to start-ups and stagnated businesses.

Give it a try, write your own Powerline.  You may just have solved the 800-lb. marketing problem that’s been plaguing your team.  Want a good place to start?  Try your hand at writing your own Powerline and find a universal truth about YOU.  

Here’s the very first ad created under this tagline…


*The director of this original commercial was none other than Michael Bay of Transformers fame.

NOTE: The milk mustache campaign was developed by another agency (Bozell) for a slightly different purpose, but recognized the brilliance of the tagline and made it a part of their memorable creative (with the help of Annie Leibovitz photography).


Read more of a “how to” on creating your own Powerline here — an article on LinkedIn.